So, in this week’s episode, Alex Parrish is desperate and decides to hide in a house close to where Ryan Booth was shot —the FBI has the whole area surrounded and they are closing in fast. She’s tasked with removing the bullet from Booth and uses vodka as an antiseptic for the wound. This is another shining moment of Priyanka Chopra’s acting chops. She really does desperate and terrified quite well.
In the past, Nimah has moved in with Alex. My confusion about the twins is finally cleared up when Simon spells it out for me during a discussion with Raina—Nimah is the one who does not wear a hijab normally and Raina is more reserved and religious.
In addition, it looks like Raina is the one interested in Simon and Nimah only sees him as a fellow trainee and maybe a friend. However, by the looks of things, this is going to be a love triangle, because Simon’s more intrigued by Nimah than Raina.
And then we have Caleb and Shelby, who I want to say are cute but they’re somehow just rough around the edges, so as it turns out they are not cute. And when I say they, I really mean Caleb. He borrows Shelby’s phone after morning sex and they joke about how neither of them know details about each other like their birthdays, the color of their eyes or even how old they are.
(I promise, the phone-borrowing becomes relevant.)
On another interesting note. Miranda deems it a take-your-child-to-work day at Quantico, but only for herself. Yes, Charlie gets more screen time and he’s still very grumpy and annoyed with his mother. She’s much better, however, about deflecting his comments and tells him that he should see what takes her away from him all the time. So, for the entire lesson and test, Charlie is somewhere in the background.
The lesson this time is to handle cases on their own. Each New Agent Trainee is given a test case that comes straight from the Bureau and have been assigned these cases based on what Miranda and Liam think will be their strongest field (i.e. they think Simon would be suited to organized crime, Alex to terrorism and Caleb to cyber crime).
In the future, Shelby, Nimah, Raina and Simon, are brought to the command center and Clayton reprimands Shelby in private, accusing her of getting close to him in order to help Alex. He then goes on the air to make a statement to the press.
Alex and Ryan watch from their house, and on the air, Clayton’s server is hacked. The information is being leaked onto the Internet and Alex is able to read all of it. She realizes that whoever hacked the computers just gave her all the clues she needed to figure out who framed her.
Clayton asks Caleb to go into his and Shelby’s email accounts and scrub them clean so that no one finds out about the affair. They are trying to protect Caleb’s mother and Clayton’s wife—she is a Democratic Senator being nominated for something in a few days, and Clayton does not want to ruin her career. Caleb agrees to help.
Author’s Note: I have no idea what a U.S. senator can be nominated for—if anyone can tell me in the comments, I’d appreciate it.
Ryan and Alex talk in the past, while they all examine their cases, and Ryan tells Alex what he discovered about her father. Apparently, he was Liam’s boss and they worked together until 1993, when Liam wanted to transfer out of the unit. There is no reason stated for Liam’s desire to leave his unit, but Ryan suggests that Alex’s mother might know the answer, but Alex refuses to consider it because her mother had 15 years to tell her, and she hadn’t.
Caleb is looking up Shelby online, trying to figure out biographical details so that he’s not caught unaware when she asks him about it again. Brandon warns Caleb not to do that, because while you may find the information you need, you might also find out things that you do not want to know about someone. It’s best just to ask them. Caleb ignores this advice, which is going to prove problematic later on. Shelby’s phone rings in Caleb’s pocket and he realizes that he forgot to give it back to her earlier, and sees that she has a call from Riyadh. Shelby dismisses it as a wrong number.
Nimah and Simon realize that all the NATs’ cases are linked. The real lesson was to understand that while they may have separate cases, oftentimes another agent could have the key to cracking someone else’s case. Because they were able to figure out that their cases are connected, they now have the chance to visit the FBI headquarters and present how the cases were linked to actual Bureau agents.
At the Bureau, Miranda says that Nimah and Simon will present the cases. Raina is jealous of Nimah, but Nimah just wants to make a good impression on the agents.
Meanwhile, Ryan uses his access to get Alex information on her father, which shows that Alex’s parents met in Bombay and that her mother might have a history with Pakistani Intelligence. They rush out in time for the briefing and take the file with her father’s information in Alex’s bag, not realizing that Liam was watching them.
The NATs present their cases and conclude that there will be a biological agent released in a public park for maximum impact and the agents are impressed. Then, the NATs are assigned to the park and are given photos of suspects to apprehend without panicking the public.
Charlie asks Miranda if he can be in the park with the group, and she consents, happy that he is showing interest in something productive. Miranda also tells Raina to sit the park assignment out, since Nimah and Simon are working well together and the twins still can’t be seen together outside the Bureau. Raina looks very troubled by this.
In the future, the two members of the online group that Alex did her interview with, are in the house and have agreed to get Alex and Ryan out of there, but they have to wait for a ride. In the meantime, they are going through all of the hacked data (which I assume their group was responsible for) and they discover that the Grand Central bombing was just a dry run, and that there is another bomb out there that the FBI doesn’t know about.
Caleb shows his dad an email that indicates that Alex might be telling the truth—another agent was caught using Alex’s ID to get into the New York field office. Clayton tells him it’s nothing, but Caleb doesn’t agree.
In the park, the NATs all blend in, and work together when Alex catches sight of a suspect to make sure that she can confirm it is actually a suspect. She confirms it and takes off after him. She chases him down and it turns out that he didn’t have the biological agent on him. But when she gets back to headquarters, it’s revealed that Alex herself had it in her bag. Miranda and Liam reveal that while the NATs were looking at one suspect, another snuck up behind Alex and put the biological agent in her bag, knowing that she would eventually have to come back to headquarters, which was the real target, and would be framed as the carrier.
All of them failed this test which is:
A) The first time that has happened.
B) Also, very reflective of the future, when Alex is framed and someone else is pulling the strings.
Alex looks through her bag and realizes that the file is gone. While Liam’s plant put the biological agent in her bag, the plant also took back the file to give to Liam in order to return it to the archives.
In the middle of it all, however, Caleb and Shelby were removed from the exercise because Shelby received another call from the Riyadh number and claimed it was a telemarketer, after she had previously said it was a wrong number, and Caleb wanted to know what she was hiding—so he looked into it.
As a result, the Bureau agents pulled them out without Miranda’s permission and asked her why she was making large payments to an account in Riyadh and it’s revealed that Caleb was the cause of these questions, which Shelby finds offensive and invasive. She and Miranda reveal that Shelby’s father had another daughter, Shelby’s half-sister, with a Saudi Arabian woman, before marrying Shelby’s mother. Shelby only found out about her recently and was giving her money to help her out and make payments on a house. Miranda reprimanded the agents for going behind her back and Shelby does the same to Caleb.
In the future, the two people from the online group get Alex and Ryan their ride, but they’re all bickering about calling in a tip to the FBI about the other bomb. Alex wants to let them know immediately, but they are insistent on getting Alex out of there first—they could call it in from the car on their untraceable cell phones.
However, Alex knows how many tips are listened to and discarded every day—they have to give them a tip that makes everyone listen to them. She also doesn’t want to run away, since she needs to clear her name, otherwise she’ll always be running.
Caleb tells Clayton that the email he found was the only hard evidence they had to exonerate Alex, so he kept a copy. Clayton wants to bury it because a hotel’s IP address is in those emails—he opened the email at that hotel and that’s where he was meeting Shelby. So, they can’t use that information. Caleb looks troubled, especially when he finds out that Shelby had sent his father an email, intending to end the affair because she was still in love with Caleb.
In the past, Alex confronts Liam about a bombing in Omaha where 204 people died. The agents involved messed up, including Michael, Alex’s father, and Liam. Michael and Liam were undercover and missed the signs for an attack. The reason it was covered up was to not ruin everyone’s lives, and all the other agents went on to have very successful careers at the Bureau. He also confirms that Alex’s mother is not ISI (Pakistani Intelligence) and that the FBI just wanted to try pinning the blame on anything they could. He tells her to ask Miranda for confirmation if she doesn’t believe him.
Caleb reveals to Shelby that his father, Clayton, rescued him from a cult when he was 17. While he isn’t explicit, he implies that he was abused in there, possibly sexually but definitely psychologically and emotionally (cults’ specialty), and even hints at possible suicidal tendencies he had then. The two reconcile and Shelby tells him, without using the words, that she’s falling for him.
Back in the future, Shelby and Nimah decide to go out, now that they’re allowed to leave the premises at nights and weekends and Shelby invites Raina, but:
A) Raina doesn’t drink.
B) Only one twin can be off-campus at night.
Shelby promises Raina that Nimah can stay behind next time and Raina agrees weakly. Simon offers to spend time with her, but she refuses, likely believing that Simon only wants to spend time with her to get to know Nimah better or out of pity.
We get a flashback to Caleb, who is going by Mark, meeting a man called Raymond who definitely looks like a cult leader—smiling, innocuous and slightly predatory eyes that only fake patience and understanding.
In the past, Simon gets a call from someone who is revealed to be his bomb expert contact and admits to no longer wanting to be at Quantico, confirming he’s there for something other than becoming an agent.
We also have a cute scene between Charlie and Miranda where Charlie likes what the NATs do and wants to join the Bureau. Miranda is apologetic because there is no way the Bureau will let him in as a previous violent offender with a criminal record and a famous mother already at the Bureau. Charlie looks sullen and disappointed, even though his mother offers assistance with finding something else to do with his life.
Alex goes to see Miranda, who confirms Liam’s admission. Miranda goes to take a call and takes some time, so Alex follows her upstairs and asks if she’s coming back. She finds Miranda on the floor, bleeding. She asks Miranda who hurt her and Miranda chokes out Charlie’s name. Alex hears a noise and checks it out, seeing a window open. Charlie is nowhere to be found.
In the future, Alex forces Ryan into a helicopter with one member of the online group to get him out of the country and gets the other member to take her to the command center. She turns herself in and tells them they need to hurry because there’s another bomb out there.
So, it looks like the show’s found itself and other than the very premise, not really anything offensive.
Priyanka Chopra’s acting is better now that she has more emotional scenes to work with, and all the other characters are still just as mysterious as in episode one, even though we’re filling in the blanks. I hope to see more, because it looks like things will be heating up for the next episode!
Raisha Karnani holds an Honours BA in English and Drama from the University of Toronto and has been writing professionally for nine years. Raisha enjoys anything Harry Potter related, munching on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and painting her nails.
January 1, 2023January 1, 2023 7min readBy Brown boy
Wyatt Feegrado is a comedian and content creator from Walnut Creek, San Francisco, California. Feegrado moved to New York City to attend the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Feegrado always wanted to be a comedian and grew up watching “The Last Comic Standing” with his mom — his favorites being Alingon Mitra and Sammy Obeid. In 2020, Feegrado starred in the TV show “Bettor Days,” on Hulu and ESPN+, as the character Vinnie bets on the baseball team The Astros and wins big. Feegrado also has a podcast called “First World Problematic,” along with Vishal Kal and Surbhi, where they talk about a range of topics such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, and will be dropping an “Indian Matchmaking” Reunion show. Currently, in Bangalore, Feegrado is performing his first show in India, at the Courtyard in Bangalore. He was previously on tour in the United States. He recently dropped the Amazon comedy special “Wyatt Feegrado: De-Assimilate.” Continue reading to learn more about Wyatt Feegrado.
Do you feel that your upbringing in Walnut Creek and your personal experiences are what molded your comedic style?
Walnut Creek, for people who have never been there, is frankly a very white place. I must’ve been one of four or five Indian kids in my high school of 2000. I think growing up like that, you begin to believe that it’s a bit ‘odd’ that you’re brown. Part of finding my comedic voice was changing that perspective to say; it’s not weird that I’m brown, it’s weird that you’re not. That’s the paradigm shift — I don’t move through the world trying to impress people, why should I? Who are they? They should be trying to impress me.
What was it like attending the Tisch School Of The Arts and what classes helped shape you as a person?
I hope I don’t get too much flack for this…but I don’t really think that NYU helped my career very much. Being in New York helped me immensely, it raised the ceiling on what I could achieve. I really appreciate NYU’s approach, they teach art as a fundamentally collaborative discipline, which I do believe it is. However, that’s just not how I learn. I’m a competitive person, I want to be pitted against my fellow students and prove I’m the best. That motivates me. I would say, if you want to use NYU or any art school to your advantage, understand that classes are only half of what you’re supposed to be doing. That was a pet peeve of mine, I used to see my fellow students finish class and simply go home. That’s not the way to do it in this industry. Every day, after school, I used to go to two or three open mics, send in self-taped auditions, and make opportunities of my own. You’re betting on yourself — so go all in.
What was the process of creating the comedy special “Wyatt Feegrado: De-Assimilate?”
In terms of writing the jokes, it’s the culmination of studying joke writing for 10 years. But I was approached with the opportunity in March or so, and I had my reservations to even tape a special — I’m a perfectionist so I wanted all my jokes to be some of the best ever written. But that’s just a bad strategy in terms of trying to make it in life. When an opportunity falls in your lap, you have to take it no matter what. Worry about whether you’re ready later. One time I was cast in a commercial for Facebook that required me to do skateboard tricks. I lied and said I knew how to do skateboard tricks at the casting call. I landed the commercial and then started practicing how to skateboard. I think the most important lesson in comedy you can learn is how to believe in yourself when nobody else does. I always have the confidence that I will rise to the occasion.
What was it like getting your special on Amazon Prime?
So Four by Three, the amazing production company that produced my special, has a very good relationship with Amazon, as they’ve produced a lot of content for their platform. They handled distribution for me, and together we made the strategic decision to also release De-Assimilate on YouTube. I think because of the over-saturation of streaming services you have to pay for, combined with the renaissance YouTube is having, where a lot of the content will have TV-level production value, more and more young people are turning to YouTube as their primary source of content. People are always asking who is going to win the “streaming wars.” My dark horse candidate is YouTube.
As a comedian how do you deal with hecklers?
So many comedians are mean to hecklers. I hate that. There’s no reason for that. They’re a person too and it’s not right to berate them unless they truly insulted you first. In my opinion, there are three types of hecklers — the heckler who is just too drunk, the heckler who thinks they’re helping the show, and the heckler who actually hates you or thinks you’re unfunny. I think only the latter deserves to be berated. The rest of them I try to work around, and tell them they’re interrupting the show in a way that doesn’t interrupt the show in itself.
What was the first joke you ever wrote and your favorite joke you have ever written?
Oh god this is going to be horrible. The first joke I every wrote was:
“Shawn White is a professional snowboarder, but a lot of people don’t know he is also very skilled in Curling, his hair”
That is so bad. I’m embarrassed. At least it disproves the BS some people say that “funny isn’t learnable.” That is NOT TRUE. What they mean is the infrastructure for funny scant exists. There’s no Standup Comedy Major in Art Schools or Textbooks that teach joke writing. There will be one day, but for now there isn’t.
My favorite jokes I write are jokes that I really think encapsulates the zeitgeist. My favorites on the special are the joke about how Jesus’ Disciples are Brown, and how the Vaccine is the first time anyone in the US has gotten healthcare for free.
Are there any jokes that you regret telling in front of an audience?
Of course. Referring back to my answer to the first question, any joke that has the underlying presumption that it is ‘odd’ to be brown — which is a genre of jokes that many Indian-American comedians in history have been pigeonholed into — I regret saying those type of jokes when I first started. Now I do the opposite. Sometimes I’ll do a joke about how Jesus was brown in Texas just to piss them off.
What has been your favorite project to work on?
Flying to Nashville to shoot Bettor Days for ESPN+ was great. I was just out of school at the time so it felt amazing to make money, travel, and work. Also the sets were fun and I’m still friends with the cast. And then getting to see myself on TV for the first time — thrilling.
Can you tell us more about your podcast First World Problematic?
Yes! First World Problematic is the comedy podcast I host with Vishal Kal — yes the same one that broke Nadia’s heart on Indian Matchmaking — and Surbhi, another close comedian friend of mine. We’re all Indian-Americans, and we discuss a wide variety of topics, such as dating, pop culture, and just in general make a lot of jokes. ALSO! We just released an Indian Matchmaking Season 2 reunion special — we brought back all the cast members of season 2 for a tell all! In Jan we plan to do a Season 1 reunion.
Who do you look up to in the world of comedy?
Man. I’m a student of a looooooooot of comedians. So so so many people I look up to. Steven Wright and Dave Chappelle are my first loves. When I was a kid, I used to think standup was just time pass, until one day I stumbled upon Dave Chappelle: Killin Em’ Softly on YouTube. That is what made me realize that standup can be high art. That is when I knew I wanted to be a comedian. Steven Wright is the comedian who first inspired me to write jokes, many of my first jokes emulated him. I have learned so much about modern Joke Structure from Dave Attell, Emo Phillips, Dan Mintz, and Anthony Jeselnik. Bit structure I take directly from Louie CK and Bill Burr. As for my comedic voice, I learned so much from Paul Mooney. Listening to him is what I feel really unlocked my approach to comedy, the way how he is so mean, so aggressive. He talks about white people the way the media talks about black people. I always thought us Asian people needed that, an Asian comedian that talks about Asian-American issues, but not with the friendliness you typically see Asian comedians portray. He taught me to be in your face. And Chappelle taught me how to be nice about it.
Do you feel that South Asian comedians can be easily pigeonholed?
Historically — unequivocally yes. In the modern times, much less so. I very much think South Asian comedians in some sense pigeonhole themselves, by trying to emulate past South Asian comedians, who were pigeonholed by the market. I do think now, and it is completely because of social media, there is a market for every kind of comedy. Like I said in my previous answer, I’d like to be a South Asian comedian with the confrontationality that we have historically only seen from Black comedians.
But you know who is really pigeonholed nowadays? Female comedians. This may be a tangent, but if there was a Female comedian that talked about Female issues, with the hostility towards men that Bill Burr will occasionally have towards women, in my opinion she would likely be the GOAT.
How do you feel social media such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Snapchat have changed comedy?
Social media has been a truly beautiful thing for comedy. It has completely decentralized the power structure of our business. Back in the day, if you wanted to get famous, you had to do comedy that appealed to the white men who held the power at the networks, at the talk shows, in the writers rooms. They still do control all those things, but now because of social media the people watching our stuff are representative of the population, and we can grow our followings because the market is wider. Now if you have a social media following, you have all the leverage, and therefore you see a multitude more styles of standup comedy out there. Also social media in my opinion is the third great comedy boom. Seinfeld made standup a household art form, Netflix made it possible for people to binge watch standup, and now Tiktok and Instagram have proliferated standup to the point where it is EVERYWHERE. There are more comedians than ever and there’s a bigger market for standup than ever.
Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?
Us Indian-Americans are at a very interesting financial and cultural intersection. Indians are the richest ethnicity in America, and culturally Indian parents will generally pay for their children’s college, unlike other ethnicities. If Indian parents were to hypothetically support their child to go into the arts, just like they may support them in getting their Masters degree, I believe Indians would have an astronomically higher chance of making it in the arts than anyone else. The greatest gift you can give your artist child is financial support in the early stages, since we all know the early stages of the arts make next to nothing. We just have to get rid of the Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer only BS that I would argue is a remnant of the Caste System in India.
Also, remember to call white people Euro-Americans. It helps the movement!
In an age where algorithms dictate viewership, Nancy Jay uses her love of dance to propel herself onto TikTok’s “for you” pages. Jay is an Indo Guyanese, Bronx native who began dancing at the age of three. As an influencer and content creator, she amassed a social media following of more than 500,000. Versed in many styles of dancing including Caribbean, Bollywood, urban and Latin, Jay can be spotted in soca music videos such as Linky First’s “Rock and Come in” and “Jeune Femme,” Adrian Dutchin’s “Roll” and by soca king Machel Montano’s “Mami Lo Tiene.”
Many content creators are typecast into the niche but Jay has defied this norm and proclaims she is more than just a dancer.
“I dance, travel, post lifestyle and beauty content. I’m an Indo Caribbean woman who enjoys being myself and promoting my culture. I like showing viewers it is okay to be who they are and embrace what they look like, despite what they see on social media. I did not plan on being a TikToker. As I started posting videos, the love and support I received from viewers was amazing. I have never experienced anything like that before on Instagram, where I started my content journey,” Jay said.
In conversation with Jay, the following answers have been condensed for concision and clarity.
Why is it important for you to create content related to your Indo Caribbean roots?
Growing up, I never felt represented as an Indo Caribbean on television, in movies, social media or anywhere else. My goal as a content creator is to promote the Indo Caribbean culture through my content and be the representation the Indo Caribbean community needs.
Are there unspoken rules about being a content creator or an Indo Caribbean woman on the platform?
Being an Indo Caribbean woman on TikTok can be challenging when you are trying to find your identity and do not feel represented.
Jay explains her frustration with the lack of Caribbean representation and acknowledgment from platforms, as well as her goals as a content creator in this video.
Do you ever experience a block, similar to writer’s block, when it comes to creating content? How do you overcome that?
I have yet to experience a block. However, I do have days where I want to take a break and just relax instead of filming. As a content creator, it is important to take breaks and schedule days to just relax because being a full-time content creator is a 24/7 business. It can be draining and you may lose your sense of reality when you have the mindset that everything is content. I enjoy taking a day or half a day to cook, watch TV or go shopping with my partner without the worry of filming any of it.
How has your social media presence changed your daily life?
When I am in public, supporters approach me to express their love for my content and sometimes ask for a selfie. When I find people staring at me in public now, it’s most likely because they recognize me from social media and not because I look funny.
In May of 2021, I used my platform to reach out to brands and ask for their support in a project I named ‘Nancy Jay Gives Back.’ I put together care packages, using products donated by brands, and drove around the Bronx sharing them with people experiencing homelessness or those in need. Seeing the happiness on their faces upon receiving these bags was priceless. Additionally, I spread some extra joy through dance. I remember one lady telling me she’d never been to a club or party so I told her I’ve brought the party to her and we danced to her favorite genre of music right there on the street.
Jay plans on continuing this project as her social media presence has grown.
How has your family reacted to your social presence?
My family has always been supportive of my talents and the path I have chosen. My first public dance performance was at the age of 12. I performed a fusion of Bollywood and chutney music at middle school events. When I got to high school, I participated in our talent show to a fusion of Bollywood, chutney, soca and top 40. I won the talent show three or four times. I also performed for fundraisers organized by mandirs in Queens, the Bronx, weddings, sweet sixteens and other social events.
My family always came out to support me. They love seeing my content and always encourage me to film and create. My mom in particular tells everyone about my TikTok videos.
While enrolled at John Jay College, Jay founded the first West Indian student organization called “West Indies Massive.” She captained the dance team, taught dance classes and won the talent show multiple times while pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in law and police studies.
Any advice for creators who may not have the support of family?
Do not let this discourage you. If content creation is something you truly want to do, stay consistent and eventually your family will support you for doing what you love. Social media is still new to some and the idea of it being someone’s career or business is new as well. I say be patient. Also, talk to them about your social media goals, as perhaps they do not understand the full picture.
What is your dream partnership and why?
My dream partnership would involve acting. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, preferably a Bollywood actress because I know I would kill those dance numbers (haha!). Also, I would love to partner with Sandals Resorts and bring that Caribbean flavor they should be promoting.
Jay has collaborated with major brands like Samsung Mobile, Norwegian Cruise Line, AC Hotels, Disney Music Group, and Dunkin which is paramount for the Indo Caribbean community.
“I am the first Indo Caribbean woman to work with Norwegian Cruise Line as a content creator. Cruise travel is a huge part of my content journey. I love cruising and creating unique experiences and content. While cruising, I connected with the crew while most people typically do not. I treat everyone with respect,” Jay said
“I started a fun series called ‘Cruise Dances with the Crew’ back in August of 2021. There’s a playlist on TikTok with all of the fun dances. Prior to my first video, I had not seen anyone dancing on cruise ships with the crew. I guess you could say I started that trend.”
Nancy intertwined this partnership with her content and further put herself on the map.
Another pivotal partnership for Jay occurred in March 2021 when Dunkin chose her as one of 10 from a nationwide competition to feature her signature drink on the local menu.
How has content creation changed in the past two years?
Within the past two years, my content and style has grown tremendously. My gear list has also grown tremendously. I’ve been a content creator full time for a little over a year now. I have had more time to focus on the presentation and editing of my content.
What else do you want your viewers to not know about you or your work?
I stay true to who I am. Supporters who I’ve met in person can attest that I am the same, in-person and online. I like to keep things relatable, fun and authentic. I am working with a lot of big brands. I try to incorporate dance in all my content to capture my passion, diversity and culture.
I started teaching Caribbean Dance Fitness classes and private dance lessons officially in 2016. Since Covid, I moved everything online. Not only have I helped many learn how to dance but I have also helped build their confidence through dance and expression.
Lastly, I love traveling and encouraging others to live their best life.
Jay is more than a dancer; she is unapologetically herself. She maximizes opportunities and is building a brand that highlights her Indo Caribbean roots – a culture often not highlighted in mainstream media.
February 28, 2023March 5, 2023 5min readBy Arun S.
Born in the US and raised in New Zealand, actor Anya Banerjee made her television debut, this past Sunday, in season 10 of NBC’s “The Blacklist.” She is seen playing the character of Siya Malik, daughter of former task force member Meera Malik who met with an untimely death in season one.
An MI6 agent, Malik is hoping to learn more about her mother and the work she did with Raymond Reddington. Her character is a sharp, inventive, fearless spy with a knack for spotting what motivates others. Even though this is her first-ever television role, one can see how deeply involved Banerjee is in the character, pushing you to connect back the dots to the history her character comes with. In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Banerjee talks more about her journey into acting, what drew her to the role of Siya and what should the audience expect from the 10th and final season of the show:
People, in general, are very influenced by the content they consume. Was there a specific film, play, or television series that got you interested in acting?
As the first in my family to be raised in “the West,” just being in the world involved performing some kind of identity. Film and TV acted as a third parent in that regard. I’m the first actor in my family, but have wanted to do this since before I can remember. Watching “Bend It Like Beckham” when I was in primary school showed me there was a place for South Asian female leads in Hollywood. I’ve also always been drawn to media with some element of the fantastical. I loved Baz Lurhmann’s “Moulin Rouge” because it brought the theatricality of the stage to the screen in a spectacular way. I remember being tickled by the cultural fusion in the film. It reflected my own sense of being at the intersection of various cultures and the appeal of escaping into a made-up world.
Were you a part of any productions in school or in college that influenced you?
I did a lot of singing and dancing as a kid; Indian dance-dramas at Durga Puja and yearly ballet recitals. We did musicals and Shakespeare productions at secondary school and that’s also when I started working in Auckland’s professional theatre scene.
What were some of your favorite roles while pursuing the acting program at Columbia University and how did they prepare you for your television debut?
Casting director James Calleri headed the acting MFA program at Columbia when I was there and his on-camera classes really set us up for success in TV. We also had the tremendous good fortune of being Ron Van Lieu’s first cohort at Columbia. The master acting teacher directed our thesis production of “Where Do We Live?” by Christopher Shinn. I played Lily, a British party girl who has to be physically and emotionally vulnerable in the play. With the help of movement coach Sita Mani and intimacy co-ordinator Alicia Rodis, I gained the confidence to take more risks in my acting. Now I’m playing a very different Brit with a totally different background and disposition but I’m using many of the same tools I used as Lily to feel grounded as Siya.
How would you describe “The Blacklist” to people wanting to learn more about the show?
Action-packed, full of intrigue, and endlessly entertaining. There’s a reason this show has been killing it for a decade and that’s the high caliber of the cast and crew, as well as the inventive and topical writing that keeps fans coming back for more. Audience members who’ve watched from the beginning will appreciate the full circle moments that my character ushers in — I play the daughter of Meera Malik, late CIA agent from season one so my storyline is a bit of a throwback. But new viewers can use me as an access point into the world of “The Blacklist” as Siya uncovers it, bit by bit, as a newcomer herself.
How did you prepare for the role of Siya Malik and how similar are you in real life to the character you’re playing on screen?
Some of the first things I had to learn on the job were stunts and how to operate a firearm. You’ll be seeing a lot of Siya kicking butt. The gun stuff was entirely new for me but I took to it very quickly and my background as a dancer helped with the fight scenes. Something I identify with in Siya is her resilience. She’s turned the tragedy of her mother’s death into the fuel that led to her own career as an MI6 agent, overcoming obstacles and others’ underestimation of her. That’s the kind of fire inside that I really admire and hope to practice in my own life.
I love characters with complex inner worlds — ones who are deeply flawed and may even be outcast from society, but who rise above the odds to carve out space for themselves and the ones they love.
Do you feel South Asians are still pigeonholed into certain roles or has it gotten better?
I think things are a lot better than what I grew up seeing in the early 2000s. “Sound of Metal,” for example, is one of my favorite movies because Riz Ahmed’s riveting performance has little to do with him being South Asian and everything to do with his commitment to an expertly crafted role.
Is there a dream role you would want to play?
On stage, someone as volatile as Emma from Duncan Macmillian’s “People Places & Things.” On screen, someone as funny as Amina in “We Are Lady Parts” or as brave as the title character in “Kimi.”
You have worked with many talented individuals. Is there anyone still on your list you would want to work with in terms of directors, actors, actresses, and others?
Parminder Nagra, obviously! As a Kiwi, it would be a dream come true to work with Jane Campion or Taika Waititi. I’m most excited to form meaningful relationships with artists daring enough to challenge the status quo.
You describe yourself as a “Kiwi-Bengali in the Big City.” How have you felt as an Indian American, raised in New Zealand, coming into the acting world?
There’s been a lot of juggling aspects of my triangular identity. A lot of the times in this industry people want you to be just one thing, or maybe two, but three’s pushing it! The reality is that we live in a globalized world. We have to make room for cultural nuance in the media. So maybe I’ll lean into my American side today, turn up the Kiwi tomorrow, and speak Bengali with my Indian parents on the phone. All are valid, authentic expressions of myself and reflections of the real world.
It’s okay to be a chameleon — in fact it’s a gift. Adapting aspects of your personality and identity to different circumstances is part of being a multicultural artist.
What is something not many people know about you?
I can be a little introverted and have struggled with social anxiety since I was a teenager. I had a bit of an emo phase then, but have since learned to take life less seriously and it’s made me a lot happier. My loved ones nurture and embrace the goofball in me. If you get to know me, I might let you see my inner clown!
Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview?
Take pride in your difference and embrace the outsider in you. It’s your superpower. There’s no one right way to be a Brown Girl so get out there and be whoever you want to be!